Lostness: God’s Fault?
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 12:34-35 (Holman) Then the crowd replied to Him, AWe have heard from the law that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can You say, AThe Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?@ Jesus answered, AThe light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn=t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn=t know where he=s going.@
Jesus= statement about His death upset the crowd. They could not conceive Messiah would die. While they wrangled over their preconceived notions, Jesus pressed ahead, urging them to walk in the light.
Had they truly longed for God=s light, they would have found it. In dense, thick forests of Asia, a curious plant grows. It is at first slim, feeble-looking, merely a straight stalk. Looking like a tall bamboo rod, it continues to grow toward the light, until it lifts its head above the thick foliage of the trees. Once it reaches the light it sprouts beautiful flowers bearing seeds.
The continued existence of this species depends on its yearning for the light. If the plant crept along the ground, and avoided the light, it would never blossom or yield any seeds.
The religious leaders were spiritual creepers. Since they did not love the light, they were relegated to having to walk in darkness, bewildered.
When we walk in darkness, the path before us is hidden from our eyes. Traveling in the dark is hard, dangerous work, picturing the disadvantage under which unbelievers labor. Their lives, at best, are a groping.
John 12:36a AWhile you have the light, believe in the light. . .@
Jesus warned of a deadline. AWhile@ implies a limit, an end. We do not have forever to decide about forever.
In making decisions with everlasting consequences, we have little time to spend, none to spare. Moments become precious when we realize the gravity of the case.
John 12:36b A. . .that you may become sons of light. . .@
Jesus loved His enemies. He wanted them to believe and be saved. Jesus had not only power to pardon, but also desire and passion to do so.
The Duke of Argyle, taken in rebellion in Scotland, was brought before King James II, who said, AYou know it is in my power to pardon you.@ The Duke replied, AIt may be in your power, but it is not in your nature.@ These words sealed his doom.
The same charge can not be brought against Jesus. Pardon is in His power, and in His nature.
John 12:36c-38 Jesus said this, then went away and hid from them. Even though He had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in Him. But this was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet who said: ALord, who has believed our message? And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to?@
Jesus again had to retreat and hide from His enemies. His words seemed to make them worse, not better.
The nation was responding to God=s spokesman the same way they did in Isaiah=s day. The message was not believed, miracles were misinterpreted.
Rejection of the Messiah by God=s own people should not have surprised anyone familiar with the Old Testament. They had always rejected God=s servants, including prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos.
John 12:39-41 This is why they were unable to believe, because Isaiah also said: AHe has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they would not see with their eyes or understand with their hearts, and be converted, and I would heal them.@ Isaiah said these things because he saw His glory and spoke about Him.
Can God be blamed for lostness? Does He cause human rejection? No. The leaders could not believe because they would not. God never condemned anyone by mere sovereignty. Evil can not be called a fatal necessity.
God does play a role in human lostness. Blindness begins as voluntary, self-imposed, but then becomes a punishment from God. Judicial blindness and hardness are enacted against those who willfully persist in wickedness.
On the moral constitution of the Universe, God has engraved His law of spiritual hardening. If people reject the Gospel, their opposition to belief increases. Truth rejected decreases a person=s ability to receive it next time.
No one can hear the Gospel and stay the same. God has ordained, if His word does not quicken, it deadens. Hearers of the Gospel who do not believe are made blinder and harder by listening. Rejected light begets denser darkness.
Each ANo@ makes Ayes@ harder to say. The unbelieving mind slowly recedes, degree after degree, from a warm, hopeful climate to an arctic zone, where it can become fixed in relentless, eternal ice. AI will not@ leads to AI cannot.@
This hardening and blinding do not take place against people=s will. As they persist in evil, God blinds and hardens them simply by letting them alone.
Our Deliverer came to us. We rejected Him. What a tragedy. Others have been treated better. When Alexander marched across the world he was often welcomed as a deliverer because the Persian yoke had often been heavy.
When Charles V landed at Tunis 10,000 men and women slaves knew their emancipation was assured. When they heard he was entering the city, they rushed to the gate, knelt down, hailed him as their deliverer, and asked God to bless him.
But when Christ, the world=s deliverer, came to earth to free us, we received Him not. Most continue to reject Him. Now the question is, AWhat will you do with Jesus, your deliverer?@